Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 how positively the reputation the church in Thessaloniki has developed. In particular, in verse 10, he refers to their expectant attitude towards Christ’s return.
It is interesting to note that the final verse of all five chapters in this book refer to the end of time.
I wanted to learn more about people’s thinking related to end times, so I used the Holman Bible Dictionary [April 1991 edition] to explore the term “Day of the Lord.” There are a wide variety of interpretations of this concept.
Then I followed up with a reading of the term “dispensation.” James L. Blevens writes the following:
The word “dispensation” became prominent in biblical studies in a recent eschatological [end times] movement which dates back to 1830 in Scotland. This movement called “dispensationalism” can be traced back to the visions of Margaret McDonald, a member of the Plymouth Brethren Church. She believed that the return of Christ would be in two distinct stages. The believer would be caught up to the Lord in the air before the days of the antichrist. Then there would be a final revelation of Christ at the end of the age….Hal Lindsey has made the system a best seller in The Late Great Planet Earth. The Book of Revelation has become a key book in the dispensational approach. Dispensationalists see the rapture taking place in Revelation 4:1 and the rest of the book (chs. 4-18) dealing with the seven years of tribulation. Thus the book has very little significance for Christians who will not be on earth during that time.
This last sentence implies strongly that Mr. Blevens is not a dispensationalist, particularly with respect to end times. His earlier description of the genesis of dispensational thought, as well as other comments in the article on dispensation, imply the same reservations.
I am sceptical, too. It makes me just as suspicious seeing the popularity of dispensational studies of Revelation as it does seeing the vast cannon available for children related to dinosaurs.
Paul uses hyperbole in his writings, so I’ll use a bit here: Anything that popular can’t possibly be true!
The Left Behind series is a contemporary fictionalization of the dispensational view of the end of time. But again, its huge popularity makes me question its truth value.
I believe that humans prefer to immerse themselves in fiction masquerading as nonfiction much more that engaging with truth and reality. I include myself in this number. Notice that I’m spent much more time and energy on this post than on, say, learning more about the geography of Greece in the first century AD!
One concept Christians haven’t emphasized nearly enough in the past several decades is the importance of the discovery of evidence which supports a big bang.
Before this evidence was available, it was possible to argue that the cosmos had eternal existence. An eternal universe needs no creator.
Now we have an estimated maximum age of the universe.
Christians have been too busy arguing for a young earth and a literal seven days of creation with people who find the scientific theory more compelling. The key is not attaching the correct number to the age of the universe. The key is that there is a moment of creation. This is a qualitative distinction and much more philosophically important than today’s ID / evolution debate.
Scientists have put forth materialistic theories about big crunches and the like, but this is no better-supported by the evidence than the biblical record.